“The purpose of our lives is to be happy.” – Dalai Lama
Many people, me included, began drinking in the hope of finding a route to happiness. Teenage parties were livened up just as soon as a couple of bottles were introduced into the equation, a Friday night with a friend transformed from merely chatting and watching TV together, to uproarious laughter and silliness after a few glasses of Chardonnay had been sunk.
We all want to be happy. Life without happiness is a humdrum existence – we are simply being, rather than living. Alcohol for many is the secret to elevating themselves from mundane to extraordinary, the key to flitting out of normality for a few hours and into another world.
We all strive to be happy, we want to enjoy our time on Earth.
For me, and I am sure countless others, alcohol provided a reliable, cheap and easy way to find happiness. For a while.
One of the problems with utilising alcohol as a means to happiness is that the effects are short-lived and, when they wear off, often difficult to remember. Alcohol is also a depressant, and excessive drinking frequently leads to bouts of anxiety and mood swings.
When we choose to live alcohol-free, we lose that fast-track path of transportation to a different place – something which can take a long time to grow accustomed to living without. Gone is the chance to drift away into a parallel universe, and when times are tough there is no immediately obvious escape route. Living AF means learning to live with ourselves, under every cloud, each ray of sunshine, and amidst the most torrential downpours of unrelenting misery.
Despite booze enabling me to feel happy on many occasions during the twenty years that I spent downing more of the stuff than was good for me, it was a happiness that did not come free from sacrifice. The pay-off for those happy nights dancing and letting my hair down and laughing about nonsense, was terrible mood swings, frightening anxiety attacks and a gradual erosion of my self-confidence.
If the purpose of our lives is to be happy, then for me, this is best achieved through living without alcohol. I can’t fulfil my potential when I drink, I am without self-esteem and uncertain of whom I really am or what I want out of life. I stop caring so much about other people and instead am caught up in obtaining my next fix of wine. When I drink, the ONLY means of finding happiness is to be found at the bottom of a glass.
Nobody strives to be miserable, and without an alternative common and definitive meaning to life, I will settle on the Dalai Lama’s notion of what the purpose of our lives is. I believe that to be truly happy, one needs to exist in a way which the abuse of alcohol quite clearly acts as an obstacle to – to help others, connect with people, care for ourselves, achieve self-fulfilment, find a purpose and know what it is to have self-esteem.